During winter months California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) adopt striking plumage. The gular pouch (throat) of adults transitions from olive green to bright red. Breeding adults are characterized primarily by a dark brown hindneck, and may also show a yellow patch at the base of the foreneck. Nonbreeding adults retain the white hindneck but, since they also may display a red gular pouch, they are sometimes mistaken for breeders. Head coloration in adults can be white, yellow or a mix of the two, and becomes speckled during molt or chick-feeding.
California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched. Adult winter breeding plumage. The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. Adult winter breeding plumage showing brown hindneck and red gular throat pouch. La Jolla, USA